Over the weekend, Disney held an official ceremony welcoming Merida, the feisty Scottish Highland lass of “Brave” into the Disney princess fold. You would think this would make fans of the movie and character ecstatic, but that isn’t the case.
The list of classic Disney princesses is made of legends, from Snow White and Cinderella to Ariel and Belle. As much marketing tools as royalty, they represent the nostalgia and innocence of the youth of American girls. I know I’ve plunked down many a dollar on videos, Disney on Ice tickets and princess costumes for my three girls.
But there was something about Merida that struck a chord with fans that none of the other princesses possessed.The ThrowingThings pop culture blog made these points:
“She is the first Princess (a) from Pixar, (b) not inspired by literature or history, (c) without a love interest, as well as (d) who doesn’t sing.”
This made her so unique to may that when Disney unveiled Merida with her princess sisters in a group “photo”, they were mortified. Merida seemed different. No longer plain, she had a glamor about her, a glamor that her character had clearly rejected in the main plot point of the movie.
A petition at change.org charges Disney with what seems to be crimes against humanity. At cinemablend the charges read as follows:
The Disney Princess version of Merida has been sexed up, given a thinner waist, a narrower face, and big eyes that are much more similar to a Bratz doll than to the usual characters designed by Pixar. The glittery dress that Merida is wearing here is most similar to that dress you see above, which Merida is forced to wear at the archery competition and which she completely hates.
I guess this is nothing new for Disney. Mulan certainly rejected “girliness” in her desire to be a soldier, and in my mind Belle was never all that impressed with glamor. And if you look at any of the princesses in this group, you could make the point they ALL appear different from their cinematic reality.
Cinderella and Ariel are hardly recognizable and where is Snow White? Is she protesting?
(UPDATE: I have been told that the princess I identified as Ariel is Rapunzel. My bad — so L-R it’s Cinderella, Jasmin, Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty)
The truth is they are Disney’s property and as much as you hate it, you can’t project how YOU think the princesses ought to be portrayed on to their efforts to market “princess-osity” to the world. The bottom line is Disney thinks this is what sells and as long as people are buying, you can petition ’til the cows come home, Disney won’t budge.
Who knows. Maybe Merida turned 17 and started noticing boys more. I never thought my tomboy youngest daughter would get dolled up for prom, but she did. Albeit in a borrowed dress.
The good news is, I don’t think little girls notice this stuff. I think they either identify with Merida or they don’t, and if they do, it’s her spirit that will guide them, not the merchandise. So relax. It’s not the end of the anti-princess.
And the truth is, Disney has other things to worry about right now. Now that’s a problem.